What You Need to Know about Social Security Survivor Benefits

social security survivor benefits

If your loved one is receiving Social Security benefits when they pass away, Social Security might pay monthly benefits to some surviving family members. In order to receive these benefits, you must be one of the following:

  • A widow or widower age 60 or older
  • A widow or widower age 50 or older and disabled
  • A widow or widower at any age who is caring for the deceased’s child who is under 16 or disabled
  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is younger than 18
  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22

Reporting a death

If your loved one has passed away, you need to report their death to Social Security to halt benefits as soon as possible. You can do so by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). If the deceased is still receiving Social Security benefits, you will need to return them to Social Security for the month of their death and any later months.

Death benefit

When someone who is eligible for Social Security passes away, Social Security will pay a one-time death benefit of $255 to the surviving spouse or child. This money may not go very far when it comes to paying for a funeral and burial, but with the average funeral costing between $7,000 and $10,000, every little bit helps. The surviving family members have two years from the date of death to apply for this benefit.

Restrictions

You cannot apply for survivor or death benefits online. You must do so in person at your local Social Security office, or by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).